Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Headstone:  William Miller Died 1814 In His 82nd Year.
Our progenitor, William Miller, moved his family to Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania in the early 1730's. He lived in Dunbar township for some time, and for sure in his later years till his death in 1814.

If he was, as is rumored, involved on boatbuilding, this was a perfect place, as Dunbar township bordered the Youghiogheny River which fed into the Monongahela, the important waterway supplying Pittsburgh.

"Blessed by an abundance of natural resources, Fayette County developed progressively into a manufacturing economy, using its two prominent rivers to move local goods throughout the region and into the markets of Pittsburgh.  Small riverboats were an essential part of moving settlers and goods to various markets.  Boats at this time were mostly single-trip vessels to be dismantled at their destination point, with the exception of keelboats, which were pushed upstream by men setting poles into the mud and shoving the boats along." (source:  http://www.co.fayette.pa.us/planningzoning/Pages/HistoricalPerspective.aspx)

Dunbar Township
This map is unfortunately unclear (I will try to get a clearer copy), but it shows that a William Miller owned property in the upper right-hand curve of the "Yough" (the locals' name for the Youghiogheny River), a perfect place to build boats for this booming industry.

Here is another supporting article

Boat Building

Boat building was a unique part of Fayette County’s history and economy in the 1800s.  Riverboat towns were economic and cultural hubs of the boat-building craft.  Some of the boat-building centers in Fayette County were home to craftsmen recognized for their skill as far away as New Orleans In fact, shipyards on the Monongahela grew to a scale of production that exceeded both the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers The second steamboat in history, The Comet, was built in Brownsville, Fayette County in 1813.  Another steamboat, the Enterprise, built in 1814 in Brownsville, was the first to go on power from Brownsville to New Orleans and back again.  Brownsville continued to operate a successful boat-building industry for more than a century and was the first and most important center for steamboat building on the Monongahela.  Accessory industries flourished to feed the boat-building economy during the early to mid 1800’s.  (Source:   http://www.co.fayette.pa.us/planningzoning/Pages/HistoricalPerspective.aspx) 

And finally, here is an except from a Fayette County history book that even connects the name Miller with boatbuilding.
From Fayette County History Book
I believe that our William Miller might be part of this boat-building enterprise and hope that future research will actually prove that this is the case. As ever, if you have thoughts, information, pictures, etc. about William and his family, to share with all the rest of us, that would be wonderful. Thanks!
Along the Dunbar Trail, Fayette County, PA

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